LÖHE ON 1 JOHN 4:18B

burning bushThe one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1Jo 4:18b NIV)

Fear of God and of the eternal Judge over living and dead is a condition that is to be wished, hoped and prayed for – especially that those people get it, who don’t fear him yet, because this fear could lead them to repentance and conversion. The pardoned sinner loses this kind of fear. He/she is liberated from this fear of punishment and is filled with the confidence of eternal life to stand reconciled and justified in God’s final judgment. And yet even as he/she is drawn towards God and into his unfathomable love through Jesus Christ, he/she will not loose the awe and holy admiration for the divine majesty and glory either. On the contrary, he/she will recognize this more and more profoundly and thus worship him more and more devoutly and fearfully as is befitting his supreme magnificence and ultimate splendor. Even if this scriptural verse seems to convey the sense that love destroys all fear, yet it remains a powerful invitation that we, who are but dust and ashes, should be free to love the almighty, eternal and holy God. This filial fear will not diminish the heartfelt love, but will preserve it in pure humility and grateful joy and peace and keep it from straying off. Yes, it is true, we are full of longing desire for our God and our heavenly destination. Yet we are still timid and shy before your greatness and grandeur. We are so keen to worship, praise and thank you o God and are filled with fear and love at the same time. Grant and preserve me in the true faith of your forgiving goodness and mercy o God.

1. God Himself is present: Let us now adore Him And with awe appear before Him. God is in His temple– All within keep silence, Prostrate lie with deepest reverence. Him alone God we own, Him, our God and Savior; Praise His name forever.

2. God Himself is present: Hear the harps resounding; See the hosts the throne surrounding! “Holy, holy, holy”– Hear the hymn ascending, Songs of saints and angels blending. Bow Thine ear To us here: Hear, O Christ, the praises That Thy Church now raises.

3. O Thou Fount of blessing, Purify my spirit, Trusting only in Thy merit. Like the holy angels, Who behold Thy glory, May I ceaselessly adore Thee. Let Thy will Ever still Rule Thy Church terrestrial As the hosts celestial. (Gerhard Tersteegen, 1729 tr Frederick W. Foster, c.1826)

This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Thursday after the first Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 226 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu!   (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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